Aluminum heats quickly
The pots and pans are made from heavy-gauge aluminum and have a nonstick ceramic interior and a colored exterior coating. The pot and lid handles are stainless steel. While aluminum is a lightweight material—think of empty soda cans or disposable baking pans—these pans are thick enough that they are a bit heavy. They’re not as heavy as cast iron cookware, but they’ve got enough weight for efficient cooking.
Aluminum is a responsive metal, which means it heats and cools quickly, but that’s not the end of the story for this cookware. While the body of the pots is aluminum, a stainless steel base adds its own qualities to the cookware. Stainless steel retains heat better than aluminum, so it takes a little longer to heat and cool, and it heats more evenly. The two metals work together to create a pot that is less prone to hotspots, and it still reacts fast enough when the heat is raised or lowered.
Thanks to the stainless steel base, this cookware is induction compatible, so it can be used on any type of stove. It’s also oven-safe to 450 degrees. That’s not the maximum for most stoves, but it’s still high enough for just about any normal recipe. Higher heat wouldn’t ruin the cookware, but it could reduce the useful life of the nonstick coating.
Because these pans heat quickly, I often found myself turning down the heat rather than turning it up. The butter started browning while I was whisking eggs for an omelet because of the fast heating. I quickly learned that butter melted easily at the lowest heat, and eggs cooked well at low heat as well. I was able to brown foods on medium heat, which is a good thing since high heat can degrade the nonstick surface. Aside from boiling water, high heat shouldn’t be needed with this cookware.
Cleaning: Easy by hand
The interior of these pans is coated with a ceramic nonstick material that avoids the negatives associated with Teflon. It’s hard, but not impervious to scratches, so metal utensils shouldn’t be used, and harsh scrapers or scouring pads shouldn’t be used. While the pans can be washed in a dishwasher, the top rack is recommended, and hand washing is preferred.
Fortunately, the nonstick material makes these pots and pans very easy to clean. When I cooked eggs, nothing stuck to the pan, so I just had to rinse and wipe off loose bits and melted butter. No matter what I cooked, I did little more than wipe and rinse, even when I purposely set a pan aside overnight to let the food dry out. No need for even a scrubby pad—a sponge took care of cleaning every time.
While it wasn’t part of my testing plans, I accidentally incinerated some innocent dumplings in the Essential Pan. There was smoke spewing from under the lid and the bottoms of the dumplings were black. However, nothing was stuck to the bottom of the pan, and cleaning was just as easy as when I didn’t make charcoal. The pan didn’t appear to have suffered any damage, which was a pleasant surprise.
Price: Relatively expensive
this certainly isn’t the most expensive cookware in the marketplace, but there are plenty of sets with more pieces at a lower price. However, I actually appreciate that this set doesn’t include extra utensils or pieces that would see little use. Every piece in this set has a different essential function, and in my tests, they all performed well. If someone is looking for ceramic cookware, I think this set is worth the price.
Equal Parts Cookware Set vs. GreenPan Lima Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware Set
GreenPan Lima Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware Set, which I also tested, is a lower-cost ceramic nonstick cookware set option that includes more pieces than the Equal Parts set. However, some of the included pieces are less than desirable, like wooden utensils, and the pieces have smaller capacities. Overall, I’d prefer the Equal Parts set that includes fewer pieces of cookware, but all the included pieces are useful.